Experiencing sustainability

Goal by 2023

Sustainability is lived together at BFH and can be felt and experienced at its various locations.

Why this topic is relevant for BFH

The holistic approach of sustainable operation includes not only topics such as resource consumption, greenhouse gas emissions or waste, but also the experience of sustainability at the various BFH locations.

BFH locations should be places of learning and experience for sustainability for both university staff and visitors. A tangible experience of sustainability and participatory engagement with it raises awareness and inspires both university members and visitors. At the same time, a space for dialogue and experimentation is created and the hurdle for the first step towards personal commitment to sustainable development is taken. BFH thus becomes a real laboratory.


Interview with the new head chef at the BFH-HAFL canteen

Jeremiah, what was the first thing you implemented when you started as head chef at the HAFL canteen in September 2021? 

Already during the job interview, it quickly became clear to me that a lot of employees at HAFL consume meat. I was determined to bring these figures down. During the procurement process, a lot of emphasis was placed on the fact that the meat came from Switzerland. However, it was forgotten that, for example, a lot of vegetables are also supplied from abroad. So, my first goal was to reduce the number of meat menus, to use only local ingredients if possible and at the same time to expand the veggie offer.

Where else do you pay attention to sustainability?

I also wanted to make sure that the delivery is as efficient as possible. Now we only have one delivery a week in which a 3-zone truck arrives that can deliver vegetables, meat, and dairy products at the same time. It is also important to me that the ingredients are locally sourced. That way we can already save on the delivery route. Reusable containers are also an important point: I can wash lamb’s lettuce on site, it doesn't have to be packed in plastic. It is only with meat that we are still looking for reusable packaging materials.

Jeremiah Omara in Küche
‘A lot of people come by and thank us for the great veggie offerings’, says Jeremiah Omara. He has been working at BFH-HAFL as head chef for the canteen since September 2021.

What has changed at HAFL menu since your arrival?

We now offer at least two full-value veggie menus per day. And the feedback is very positive. Many people also come by and thank us for the great veggie offerings. With the meat menu, I have made sure to reduce the portion size. We do offer everyone the chance to have another helping, but the first portion is usually enough. In this way, we can also counteract food waste.

What are your plans for the future?

In the office, I would like to go paperless as far as possible; for example, I ask all suppliers to send the delivery notes online. At HAFL, I'm also in contact with many researchers in the field of agriculture and nutrition, so I see a lot of potential for collaboration. This spring, for example, all the wild garlic we use in the kitchen is from the garden on the HAFL grounds. It would also be interesting to keep track of the greenhouse gas emissions of certain menus. I would like to find out more about that.

Experiencing sustainability at the locations of BFH-AHB

BFH is working hard to make sustainability a tangible experience in all departments. In November 2021, BFH-AHB launched the ‘Campus4Biodiversity’ project together with external partners, which uses transformative teaching projects to teach and establish biodiversity promotion at universities of applied sciences and universities.

At the end of 2021, a habitat map of the campus was also recorded at this department, on the basis of which a three-year staged plan for implementation was drawn up. Enhancement measures are to be implemented step by step in the following years. For example, an environmental action day is planned for the spring semester of 2022, during which, among other things, hedges and herbs will be planted and bat shelters and insect hotels built.

Campus4Biodiversity Enlarge image

How BFH addresses this topic

Currently, BFH has 33 sites in the regions of Bern, Biel and Burgdorf. Responsibility for the various sites lies with the respective heads of department. They are supported by the BFH's real estate management. However, as some locations are rented and managed by external parties, the possible influence on their energy requirements, barrier-free access or other structural measures is often limited. For example, in 2021, the protection of historical monuments that had to be considered prevented larger-scale project ideas such as a permaculture garden at the BFH-W site.

Initial steps have already been taken in individual departments to promote biodiversity and the use of environmental areas for experienced sustainability. BFH-HAFL, for example, is setting a good example by carrying out a biodiversity analysis as part of its extension project and setting up an HAFL Ecological Environmental Design Working Group. As a result, a comprehensive ecological environmental design was implemented in the department according to the most modern principles. Among other things, species-rich extensive meadows were sown, hedges planted, branch and stone piles installed, dry stone walls built, a wild bee paradise and a garden with edible wild plants created. In addition, a permaculture area and a forest garden have already been established since 2017, which also promote biodiversity and make it tangible for university staff and visitors alike.

At the BFH-AHB site, a number of biodiversity-promoting small structures have been created since 2019 with the help of volunteers and the support of facility management (e.g. insect gardens, clearance cairns or piles of twigs and branches) and the management of the green spaces has been slightly adapted (meadow areas with tall grass and wildflowers). In addition, the effects of these biodiversity-promoting measures will be documented in the future.

Smaller projects to make sustainability more tangible and liveable at the individual locations exist at all larger BFH locations. For example, several canteens consistently offer vegetarian menus or provide reusable dishes. There are also different variants of waste concepts and recyclable coffee pods are offered.

In the everyday life of students and staff, various offers encourage them to live sustainability and to take a first step towards sustainable commitment themselves. For example, BFH-W and -HAFL as well as the Services offer subscriptions for the Publibike bike rental system. In addition, a clothing swap and a book exchange were organised at BFH-W in the year under review. At BFH-AHB, the AHB-Awards are presented on the annual AHB Sustainability Day. BFH also communicates actively about many sustainability projects and activities via its website, on social media or at events.

Efforts in the area of sustainable development at its own locations can be lived even more actively and experienced accordingly. Better coordination between the various activities, the possibility of exchanging experiences and using synergies would create great added value. A first step towards a participatory design of the BFH locations is to take place in 2022 within the framework of a university-wide call for proposals. Students and employees are to be invited to submit ideas on how the BFH campuses can be made more sustainable. The best ideas will then be selected and implemented.